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NHS Direct 'to shut call centres'

Thursday September 29th 2011

Three NHS call centres are to close with the loss of 100 jobs, a leading union has said.

Unison said it had been told by managers at NHS Direct that centres at Ipswich, Norwich and Chelmsford will close.

Most of the jobs will be among qualified nurses, added Unison.

"We are really worried about the impact on patients," said a spokesman.

Unison said the move will not just hit East Anglia, but have a knock-on effect nationwide for patients relying on the call centre service.

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, said: "This is a disaster for patients and staff and we are really worried that this is the thin end of the wedge.

"Although these cuts hit local areas, the knock-on effect will be felt across the country.

"NHS Direct staff are already pressed to breaking point during peak periods, when the call centres can deal with up to 30,000 calls a day. Less people on the phones will mean patients depending heavily on out of hours duty care and a rise in the numbers queuing at A&E.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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